It’s about time I shared something with the world…I talk to myself.

Every day. Every hour. Every minute. Whenever I can.

There I’ve done it, I feel better already.

You’re probably doing it right now too. Apparently, we have over 50,000 thoughts a day, which is a whole lot of BS! Multiply that amount of BS with the number of people on the planet, and you can see why we’re all up shit creek.

 

 

The thing is, most of the time we don’t even realise we’re doing it, but that little voice inside our heads is going on and on (and on) like a broken record. Sometimes it’s saying great stuff, but let’s face it, most of the time it’s not.

But what's the big deal?

confused woman

What we say to ourselves is really important to our mental well-being. If you’re constantly being hard on yourself and telling yourself how stupid/fat/boring/lazy/this/that you are, it becomes the default setting. And how confident do you think someone’s going to be if they’re being put down all the time?

Imagine saying to your best mate, you’re such an idiot, you can’t do anything right! They’d be like, fuck off, gimme a break you arsehole!

We’re being arseholes to ourselves constantly, except there’s nobody telling us that. We’re just carrying on, day after day, speaking to ourselves like crap with no comprehension of the damage it’s doing to our mental state.

But we can fix this.

Because it’s just as easy to say positive things to yourself as it is to say negative things. Ok, who am I kidding? We wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place if it was that easy right?

Even something as minor as “I can’t remember names” or “I’m so clumsy” may seem harmless enough, but if you tell your brain something often enough it believes it, and then what hope do you have for anything being any different.

When you recognise this, you realise there’s a big ol’ wall of negative self-talk to break down. But here’s the thing, if we work at it, it does become easier, and eventually, like any habit, it becomes second nature.

You can literally rewire your brain by changing your self-talk (a process called neuroplasticity). It’s not just woo-woo, airy-fairy, mumbo-jumbo. It’s actual science.

It's good to talk

boy with open mouth

Ok, let’s begin.

First, get ready for it, we’re going to talk to ourselves…out…loud. Yep, we’re going to say nice things, sickeningly nice things, to ourselves out loud, with our mouths. I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d ever do this, let alone gush about it to strangers on the internet. But here I am.

So, every morning in the shower I start the day by saying to myself;

“Good morning, Nick. You look good today. You feel good. You’re gonna have a great day”.

And I’ll follow it up with things like;

“I look great, I feel great, I’m happy, I’m positive, I love myself, I like who I am”

You get the idea. Trust me, the cringe factor is strong in this one. I can feel you tensing up already.

 

chrissy tiegen cringing gif

 

Honestly, you’ll feel bloody stupid the first time (and the second, and the third, and the fourth) because it’s so alien to talk to ourselves out loud.

That’s what crazy people do.

I’ll admit that I’ll turn the volume down if I know my partner’s within earshot. But eventually, it’ll become something you look forward to. No really, it will. I’ve even done it in the gym showers, albeit after making sure nobody else was around (behave, I’m not that game).

But whether it’s the shower, in bed, in the car on your way to work, anywhere, try to attach it to something you’re already regularly doing every day, because it’s much more likely to stick if you set a dedicated time to do it.

The power of listening

sculpture with hand up to ear

Ok, so maybe you’re not quite ready to jump straight in at the deep end. It all just feels too ridiculous. I get it.

Enter: affirmation apps.

They do all the hard work for you and all you have to do is listen. Problem solved. The beauty of it is that you don’t even need to be giving them your full focus for them to work their magic, they tap into your subconscious so you’re free to do something else if you want. I put them on when I’m making my breakfast in the morning.

There’s a great story in Shad Helmstetter’s best-selling book, What to Say When You Talk to Yourself, that references a wife in an unhappy marriage dealing with a lack of attention from her inattentive husband.

She decides to start playing positive affirmations whilst she’s doing various things around the house. Her husband mocks her and questions why she’s listening to such garbage, but then slowly but surely, his behaviour changes.

Even though he hadn’t been actively listening to the clips, he’d been indirectly receiving the benefits too. Then you guessed it, their marriage was saved.

If it all still feels too cheesy (and trust me, they can get pretty cheesy), consider recording your own ones to give them a flavour that doesn’t make you wince. A word of warning though, if you’re doing this it’s important to keep in mind that you really must believe these things you’re saying and frame them in a way that you’ve already achieved them. “I am …” or “I have …” rather than “I will …” We’re stepping into the future here. Embrace your inner Tony Robbins and let loose.

Pay attention to what's going on in your head

ape scratching head

Great, so that’s one hour of the day sorted but what about the other 23? What’s really going to get us #winning is how we act and respond to ourselves when those negative thoughts pop up throughout the day. After all, it’s these things that got us here in the first place. 

Recognising negative thoughts is half the battle. We’ve spoken to ourselves this way for so long that it’s going to be hard to break the habit. If we can recognise when it happens though, and start responding compassionately, then eventually this will become the new normal.

The good news is that we already know how to do it.

Imagine if you overheard a friend talking to themself like this, you’d be shocked. Maybe you have heard a friend talk to themself like this, what did you say to them? I bet you weren’t like, “yeah I agree, you are a worthless piece of shit.”

No, you probably helped them try to see things from a different point of view. Well, that’s what we need to do with ourselves. To be that other person in our heads who’s going “wait a minute, have you thought about it like this?” 

So, if you’re being hard on yourself for missing out on something, ask yourself what you’d say to a mate in this situation. Or when you find yourself going off on a negative tangent, take a breath and think of three positive things about the situation too (even one positive thing is a good start). The important thing is to notice it and edit the message straight away. 

A favourite of mine is to always remind myself what I’ve learned from a challenging experience;

Yes, that sucked X happened, but if it hadn’t then I wouldn’t have learned XYZ.

Once you’ve figured out a formula that works for you, with repeated practice you’ll notice that positive autopilot has been activated and your life is looking brighter.

Time to get cracking

happy-man

So there you have it. It can be daunting to get started on this, especially if you’re naturally negatively inclined like me. Just remember, we have a whole lifetime of bad habits to shift so it’s going to take some time, and it’s always a work in progress. Don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get it right away. I’m definitely not skipping around the streets every day telling anyone who’ll listen how great I am (yet). Try it out, take that first step, and if it feels uncomfortable, great! That means you’re doing it right.

Over to you!

How do you feel about positive self-talk? Already a pro? Keen to try? Think it’s all a load of bollocks? Let me know in the comments. 

And if you’ve enjoyed this, maybe share it with a mate who might want to hear it too.

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